January 2002

doaThe Dreamcast may be dead but expect to see this guy on your Xbox later in the year. It's Ryo Hazuki from the unbeleivably cool series "Shenmue".

The story begins: Shenmue casts players in the lead role of Ryo Hazuki, a young man who has spent much of his life in martial arts training under the tutelage of a strict father. Ryo's father, Iwao, runs a dojo in the Japanese town of Yokosuka, circa 1986, where he instructs the special martial arts style "Hazuki." Martial arts skills are passed down in the Hazuki family, and Ryo has become quite proficient in fighting abilities. Although a little reckless, the young man leads a normal life, and is well known in Yokosuka, as he has been a resident of the town since birth. But upon returning home one day, Ryo finds that something is amiss: the sign outside his house lies broken on the ground, the front gate hangs suspiciously ajar, and an ominous black sedan sits parked outside.

Rushing inside, Ryo finds his father in the dojo fighting against a mysterious man, dressed in a green silk robe with an embroidered dragon on the back. He is asking Iwao about a mirror of some sort, but Ryo's father is unyielding. Out of patience, the intruder takes Ryo hostage and threatens to kill him if the mirror's location is not divulged. Defeated, the father yields and points to a cherry tree outside the dojo: the mirror is buried underneath it. This concession does not save Iwao, as he is then killed, leaving Ryo with precious few clues. Players gain control of the newly orphaned son when he awakens from a nightmare a few days after the incident: their task is to unravel the mystery surrounding Hazuki-Sensei's seemingly senseless murder.

Although limited, the entries were all top-notch efforts and everyone deserves to be rewarded for their time. Loved the capsual toy idea!

Artist of the month: Insignificant Entity!

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